Natives volunteers begin 'Drive for 500' campaign


By: Lanny Stewart

A group of volunteers have begun a season ticket drive to help support the Neepawa Natives junior 'A' hockey club.

Approximately 15-20 people from the community, led by Pat Guilbert, have started the "Drive for 500" campaign in an attempt to increase fan attendance at games next season. 

"It's in its infancy right now," said Guilbert, the organizing chair of the campaign. "The committee is being put together and we're figuring out who is going to take care of what."

Guilbert says season tickets are a flat rate of $150 each and the package includes all Natives home games at the Yellowhead Centre for the 2014-2015 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season. 

"The reason behind that [season ticket drive] is we're trying to get more people into the rink," continued Guilbert. "The premise behind it is that the value isn't going to the bank, the money is, so if we can sell 500 at $150 versus 100 at $250, then that's going to make things a little bit easier [for the Natives]."

Guilbert says the deal works out to approximately $5.50 a game if a season ticket is purchased. 

"It's reasonable and it makes it more affordable for people."

Natives general manager Myles Cathcart says 500 season ticket sales would go a long way to helping the club, who recently held a community meeting in an effort to raise awareness regarding the team's financial situation. The meeting resulted in a substantial amount of donations from the community which has helped the team moving forward.

"If we can reach somewhere close to that [500 season ticket sales], we'll be beyond our expectation when it comes to killing off the debt," said Cathcart.

Season tickets can be purchased at Team Electronics or Home Hardware in Neepawa. 

Guilbert says the volunteer committee also plans to soon work hand-in-hand with a Filipino group who have moved to Neepawa and have recently approached Natives brass about wanting to learn more about hockey. Guilbert says because of the interest, the committee hopes more immigrants will attend Natives games next season. 

"They've shown an interest and have contacted the Natives about having an information night about hockey," he concluded.